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Musk: Solar panels ‘always’ on Tesla’s plan

It was a mere “accident of history” that Tesla Motors Inc. and SolarCity Corp. ended up separate companies, the electric car maker’s Chief Executive Elon Musk said Friday.

The concept of offering solar panels to customers has always been part of his long-term goals for Tesla TSLA, +1.68% but not having stationary batteries as a way to store energy produced by solar arrays was one of the hindrances, Musk said on an interview for CNBC.

Musk has thrown a lot of weight into a proposed merger between Tesla and SolarCity SCTY, +0.59% an installer of rooftop solar-power arrays. Musk is chairman and largest shareholder of both companies, and SolarCity is led by his cousin Lyndon Rive.

“Frankly, we may have been a little late” in proposing the merger, Musk said. “You really need product integration” to win over...